Stingrays open season with shootout loss to Royals

— The South Carolina Stingrays opened the season with a 3-2 shootout loss to defending Kelly Cup champion Reading at Santander Arena on Saturday night.

Forwards Jack Downing and Jordan Owens scored for the Stingrays and goaltender Jeff Jakaitis added 26 saves.

Royals forward T.J. Syner kicked off the scoring on the power play 5:49 into the contest, lifting a shot over the glove of Jakaitis (26 saves on 28 shots) from the bottom of the right-wing circle. Forwards David Marshall and Dustin Gazley added assists.

Downing pulled the game even early in the second period,

completing a 3-on-1 rush with defenseman Kevin Quick and forward Chad Painchaud at 4:23. Moments later, Owens made it a 2-1 Stingrays lead on the man-advantage, knocking in a rebound between the legs of Royals netminder Riley Gill

(20 saves on 22 shots) at 5:58 with help from forward Scott Campbell. Rookie Wayne Simpson recorded his first professional point with the second assist.

Forward Louie Caporusso knotted up the score with a power-play tally at 4:10 of the third period from forward Stanislav Galiev and defenseman Ryan Kavanaugh.

In overtime, the Stingrays

received a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play with Royals forward Yannick Tifu and defenseman Bryant Molle in the penalty box for tripping, but Gill kept the Stingrays off the scoreboard. Owens capitalized in the fourth round of the shootout, but Tifu found the back of the net in the second round and Syner sealed the victory in the sixth frame. The Stingrays ended the night 1 for 6

on the power play while the Royals went 2 for 6.

The Stingrays continue a three-game season-opening road trip Sunday against the Royals at 4:05 p.m.

South Carolina opens its home schedule next Saturday against in-state rival Greenville at 7:05 p.m.

Hall of Fame players such as Jason Fitzsimmons, Dave Seitz, Brett Marietti, Rick Vaive, Rob Concannon and Matt Scherer, along with fan-favorites Johann Kroll, Trevor Johnson and more, will return for a pregame Alumni Game before the Stingrays battle the Road Warriors. later that night.